Once upon a time there was a woman named Brenda and she had an Angela Shelton sticker on the back of her car. She had the I’m an Angela Shelton one. She was parked in the Walmart parking lot when Jessieh walked by and saw the sticker. Jessieh stopped and stared at it. She looked to see if anyone was in the car, then she waited for Brenda to come back. “Are you really an Angela Shelton?” Jessieh asked as Brenda approached her car with her purchases. Brenda looked at her, then made the connection to the sticker, then recognized something deep within Jessieh that reminded her of herself. “Yes, I am,” Brenda answered as she loaded up her car and smiled at Jessieh. “Me too,” Jessieh said. They stared at each other.
Brenda was 35. Jessieh was 15. Brenda had been raped by her father from ages four to sixteen. She took him to court and pressed charges. Brenda’s dad got 4 years for raping his daughter for twelve years. Jessieh was going through the same thing. Brenda and Jessieh became friends (and still are to this day) and Brenda helped Jessieh go through the system, tell her story and break the cycle. It all began because of an Angela Shelton sticker in a Walmart parking lot.
I see people with the Angela Shelton stickers and T-shirts and it makes me giddy, thinking of Brenda and Jessieh and the thousands of other stories like them. I chose my name so I am fond of it and I get excited about that name I share with so many others inspires and empowers people to share, hear and heal. The I love Angela Shelton is especially touching to me. I love it when people who don’t know the story behind it say it’s arrogant and egotistical. Oh, if they only knew that logo was a gift after someone heard me tell the story of coming from an abusive past, being in abusive relationships (even with myself) and being a self-hater. I talked about removing the sword of trauma, healing the wound, loving myself and using my sword to help others. Then I was gifted with that logo. It used to make me tear up when I saw it. The reasons became even clearer to me after I went through a year with Mary Kelly Consulting. She broke I love Angela Shelton down to the core for me. Here I was sporting that logo when in reality I didn’t feel loved at all. I had been abandoned as a child, was abandoned while growing up, again while making my doc, and my book, and abandoned while speaking out about violence against kids. Jeez, lots of abandonment issues. And yet, I have the I love Angela Shelton logo? I had a good cry over that one and had to learn to love myself. Now I see that logo and I think, yeah, I do love Angela Shelton. There are still times when I get fed up with the news, with the corruption, with the blatant disregard for women and children and I think I should I give up all this work and go get a “real” job. I wonder who’s really listening, who really cares, is anyone even reading this really? Then I get some email from one of you telling me a story like Brenda and Jessieh and I think alright, okay, I’ll keep it up. I feel the love.
I’m in Charleston, SC for the Darkness to Light gala. Those of you who’ve seen my doc know my ties to Charleston and the land of papa. Most of you are also aware of my support of Darkness to Light. Darkness to Light is having their annual gala today and I’m here to present Mackenzie Phillips with the Voice of Courage Award. I received it in 2004 and I’ve gone to the gala most years since. I was there one year and Brenda and Jessieh drove down to see me. The tickets to the gala were out of all of our budgets and I couldn’t get them into the dinner portion. But during the dance party I went to the edge of the big giant tents and opened the flap and let Brenda and Jessieh in. Dance Party! We had such a great time.
Come meet me at the edge of the tent tonight Brenda and Jessieh, I’ll pull the flap open for you. I love you too.